Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan reacts during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey January 13, 2020. REUTERS/Umit Bektas
ANKARA (Reuters) – Turkey will not refrain from “teaching a lesson” to Khalifa Haftar if his eastern Libyan forces continue attacks against the country’s internationally recognised government, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.
He said Haftar had “run away” from Moscow after Monday’s peace talks between him and the head of the Tripoli-based government, Fayez al-Serraj, failed to lead to an open-ended ceasefire to end their nine-month conflict.
“If the putschist Haftar’s attacks against the people and legitimate government of Libya continue, we will never refrain from teaching him the lesson he deserves,” Erdogan said in a speech to his AK Party lawmakers in parliament.
“It is our duty to protect our kin in Libya,” Erdogan added, saying that Turkey had deep historical and social ties with the north African country and that Haftar would have taken over the entire nation if Ankara had not intervened.
He said Turkey will join Germany, Britain and Russia at a summit which Chancellor Angela Merkel is to host in Berlin on Sunday to discuss Libya, which has been mired in chaos since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Serraj signed the ceasefire agreement but Haftar left Moscow without signing the accord, the TASS news agency cited the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying on Tuesday.
Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ece Toksabay; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Dominic Evans